Tag Archives: Dawlish

Black Bridge

This will be the prototype for the first of the photo planks, a short  section of the famous sea wall berween Dawlish and Dawlish Warren. The modelled section will be a slightly telescoped rendition of the secion where the train is on the picture, with the footbridge marking one end of the scebe.


Here’s the same location from Google Earth, and with a 12″ module depth it looks as though the buildings on the upper level on the left of the picture are close enough to the tracks to be part of the scene.  Not that my photo is taken with a telephoto lens shooting parallel to the coast, and those buildings are, as the above image shows, directly behind the train.

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Dawlish repairs to be completed two weeks early

Dawlish RepairsPhoto from Network Rail

Easter holiday boost for south-west as Network Rail confirms Dawlish railway reopening.

Network Rail today announced an accelerated date for reopening the Great Western Main Line through Dawlish, reconnecting West Devon and Cornwall to the national rail network – Friday 4 April, almost two weeks earlier than the previous mid-April estimate.

Innovative approaches to sea defence and round-the-clock working by a team of more than 300 engineers have already seen huge amounts of rebuilding work completed along the damaged seafront. The main 100m breach has been repaired with nearly 5,000 tonnes of concrete and 150 tonnes of steel, and a new 200m track is ready-built for installation.

A tremendous job by Network Rail engineers working in very difficult circumstances.

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Storm Damage at Dawlish

Dawlish Damage(Photo from National Rail)

Dawlish has taken a battering in the latest storms. Marine Parade is a mess with ballast washed into the road and rails ripped up, part of the wooden station platform has been destroyed, and worst of all, there’s a 90 foot breach in the sea wall east of the station leaving the tracks suspended in mid-air.

Looking at the picture above, I can see why there are estimates of the line being closed for up to two weeks.

Here’s the same location in happier times. The middle coaches of the train are at the point of the breach in the wall.

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With global warming bringing more storms this is only going to get worse. In the long term it may prove necessary to abandon this exposed coastal section and construct a new alignment further inland. In the shorter term I think it’s time to look at reinstating one of the two alternative routes closed in the 1960s as diversionary routes for whenever the main line is closed.

While the branch from Exeter to Newton Abbot via Heathfield may never have been viable, it does look as though closing the former Southern Railway line from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock was a very short-sighted decision.

According to Nigel Harris of Rail on Twitter, the estimated cost of rebuilding the old SR route is £250 million. The cost to the south-west’s ecomomy of having the Great Western line closed for the extended period over which it’s likely to be closed has been estimated at £500m. I think you can do the sums.

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Kittens and Black Swans

These two kittens seemed very keen to pose for photographs.

A few photographs that aren’t either of rock concerts or trains, starting with these two fellows who were only too keen to pose for photos.

Black Swans

These two of Dawlish’s famous black swans weren’t quite as obliging. Whatever was at the bottom of the river was far more interesting than having their picture taken. I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot of one doing a Smaug impression.

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OK, so this one does have a train in it. But it does show what Dawlish is like on a sunny day.

The Railway Inn

Dawlish is full of old-fashioned traditional pubs, and is completely free of the characterless chain pubs which fill most towns and cities. The Railway Inn, in a street too narrow for anything other than pedestrians, does great food, and a good pint of Otter.

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Classic Traction at Dawlish

Colas Rail's 56094 heads a rake of timber empties bound for Heathfield through Dawlish

There’s precious little freight traffic in the south west of England nowadays, with reduced volumes of china clay, and most other flows short-term spot traffic. So this train rather took me by surprise, especially since I’d been told earlier that it was no longer running. It’s the timber flow from Heathfield near Newton Abbott, and this is the empties heading west.

The operator is Colas Rail, one of the smaller “open access” freight operators. Their locomotive fleet is a mixture of new General Motors class 66s and refurbished older British-build power, including this class 56 dating from the late 1970s.

The locomotive is a lucky survivor. Freight operator EWS inherited the class 56 fleet when British Rail was privatised in the 1990s, and soon retired them in favour of new-build GM power. Many of the locomotives were scrapped with a handful sold to preservationists or smaller operators. This one was actually sold for scrap in 2011, only for the scrap dealer to resell it to Colas Rail along with four others, to be overhauled and returned to service.

So the appearance of this loco in its colourful black, yellow and orange livery was quite a sight, especially as the class 56 wasn’t seen this far west in BR or EWS days.

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GWR No 6024

A photo from a couple of years ago. GWR No 6024 “King Edward 1″ with a full rake of chocolate and cream coaches passing Coryton Cove, Dawlish with the return “Torbay Express”. Only the solitary Mk2 coach in the formation gives away the fact it’s not a genuine 1960s train.

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What I Did On My Holidays

I know it was months ago, but I’ve finally got round to sorting out the hundreds of photos I took during my spring holiday in the west country.

King Edward I at Coryton Cove, Dawlish

Just after I arrived at Dawlish on Sunday afternoon, what should I see but a kettle! King Edward I on a return excursion from Paignton, with a full rake of chocolate and cream coaches, only slightly spoiled by one of them being an anachronistic Mk2

EWS 67s top-and-tailing at Dawlish

The following morning saw another “real train”, top-and-tailed 67s on the daily Cardiff to Paignton, locomotive hauled because of a shortage of DMUs. I wasn’t 100% certain that it had survived the May timetable change, but the appearance of noted railway photographer Colin Marsden just before it was due was a sure sign it was still running. The rear loco is newly repainted in DB “Traffic Red”.

Rusting winch at Dawlish

This winch has seen better days, but makes a good still life.

The Globe Inn, Lostwithiel

The Globe Inn in Lostwithiel, looking across the 700-year old bridge across the river Fowey. Lostwithiel has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, but last spring the weather was glorious.

The Night Riviera at Lostwithiel

Your choice of entertainment in Lostwithiel on a Wednesday night: Karaoke night at The Globe, or go to the station to watch the Night Riviera pass through at 11pm. For anyone who might be interested, I took this at 125th of a second at f1.4, and at 3200ASA. The train was doing something like 50mph.

Olivia Sparnenn at The Acorn, Penzance

The very lovely Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at The Acorn Theatre in Penzance. A clue as to why I holidayed in Devon and Cornwall rather than Benedorm or Barnetby!

Bridport Town at the Exeter show

Saturday was the Exeter model railway exhibition. This layout, Bridport Town, was built and operated by a Mostly Autumn fan who’d been at the gig in Penzance two days earlier. One thing I like about this layout is it gives me an excuse to use the word “verisimilitude”.

Traction Engine at Exmouth

Late afternoon in Exmouth, and what should I see but another kettle!.

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